TAKE ME TO THE RIVER ****
“They can’t fight you, unless you give them something to fight against for.”
Young teenager Ryder listens carefully to his father’s advise but he isn’t the easy type who could just silence his emotions or reasons; he’s not willing to turn his back on the issue and give up on the confrontation if necessary, because he’s determined to make sure the way is free enough to fit him.
Since the opening scene he is trying to figure out how to remain truthful and acceptable, while riding on the car with his parents from California to Nebraska for a huge family reunion. As they arrive in the farm, they immediately note the cultural barriers as much as most of his relatives are clearly intrigued by the way he looks, behaves and dresses (his shorts becomes the joke throughout the celebration). After the first impressions, some gather around him in curiosity and also amused by his talented drawings which maintains the youngsters entertained. Ryder calmly observes through the window the activities of his relatives finding no connection whatsoever; as a gay teenager growing with complete freedom and understanding from his parents, he’s unsatisfied that he can’t be himself among the others.
Soon he develops a mutual appreciation with his 9 year-old cousin Molly, and they participate on a mysterious incident that will stir up the event and defy their concepts of family bounds. After playing in a tree house, Molly suddenly appears with blood stains dripping from her genitals. The embarrassing situation brings Molly’s father into direct conflict with Ryder and his parents, questioning the facts of the incident. Now the family is divided between facing the problem and dealing with it, or putting it away just as many unsolved family matters; the night goes by, and a new day arrives, bringing the chance for amends, despite the risk of more despair and doubts.
Winner of the Best Narrative Award at Tallgrass Film Festival, and a Sundance Official Selection, Director Matt Sobel’s coming of age tale explores both Ryder’s and Molly’s emotions as they each experience different levels of puberty (he’s exploring his early homosexuality; she’s learning the first symptoms of attraction), accomplishing an accurate account on adolescence and a shocking study on family crisis. Logan Miller gives an over-the top performance as the protagonist, conquering the audience’s heart with his spontaneity, charming looks and passionate perspectives on life.
Sobel also has at his favor, the highly dramatic efforts of the whole cast, punctuating the senses of the unknown and the undesired, special mentions to the kids in general, and to Ashley Gerasimovich, who’s just ravishing as Molly’s sister Abby- stealing the scene as she knocks at Ryder’s door with an important message of reconciliation. Holding scandalous revelations to its provocative and ticking-bomb climax, Sobel demonstrates ingenious balance between the unexpected circumstances, the tremendous suspense and the tragic tale of family errors. (Opens Friday at Sunshine Cinema in NYC. Special Q&A with filmmaker and cast on March 18th. A Film Movement Release)